Do you have a mite problem in your tarantula’s enclosure? If you do, then you probably saw that one solution is introducing woodlice in the enclosure. However, you might not be sure that this woodlice will be good for your T. On the other can tarantulas eat woodlice?
Tarantulas can eat woodlice. But they are not their primary choice of prey. Usually, tarantulas just let them wander inside their enclosure. The times when woodlice get eaten is only when your T does not have any food choices. Rather, they are used as supplement maintenance of the enclosure.
Given that information, is it safe to say that you can use woodlice as a tarantula feeder? That is what we are going to find out in this article. Also, we are going to discuss if they are nutritious and if they can be beneficial not only to your tarantula but also to his enclosure.
So keep on reading to find out more!
Did you know that woodlice are related to crabs?
You might be surprised to know that woodlice actually belong in the Crustacea family. Meaning, their brothers and sisters are crabs, lobsters, shrimps, etc. Even though they are aquatic creatures, there are breeds that can completely live their life out of water.
One form of this breed is the Isopoda breed and this is where the woodlice belong. The woodlice have seven pairs of legs. Weird as it sounds, their babies are born with only six pairs of legs and they will only get their seventh pair once they successfully molt.
They are very flexible that one of their defense mechanisms is the ability to curl themselves up in a ball so that predators cannot hit any of their soft spots. Therefore, their hard shell is the only one that is exposed.
Further, they are herbivores as they tend to feed on decaying plant and leaf matter. This behavior alone makes them essential in the cycle of natural carbon dioxide.
Are Woodlice Nutritious For Tarantulas?
So what do woodlice actually contain? In the event that you are planning to treat them as your tarantula feeder, of course, you would want to know if they can actually be nutritious for your T, right?
They contain 41% of protein, 12% of crude fat, and 15% of fiber. As for their exoskeleton, they contain a mixture of Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, and Iron.
Therefore, in theory, as tarantulas can benefit from fat and protein, the woodlouse can be nutritious for them. However, due to their small size, one cannot say that the level of protein and fat can be enough to sustain the daily activities of your T.
Another thing to take note of is the consumption of their exoskeleton. As they have too much calcium, this can prove to be harmful to your T who does not necessarily need calcium and can suffer from calcification of muscles.
More than that, they are still lacking essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and Vitamin B12 that are needed by your T. Therefore, in that regard, we can say that they are not that nutritious.
You can feed your T a bowl of woodlice and we still cannot say that it will be beneficial to him.
Can Woodlice Be A Tarantula Feeder?
In hindsight, yes, woodlice can be treated as a tarantula feeder. However, this can only be done if you lack other feeders like dubia roaches or crickets. Or if you are in a pickle and do not have access to other more nutritious and bigger feeders.
With that said, woodlice cannot be your primary tarantula feeder. Not only are they not nutritious enough, but your T might even refuse to eat them.
In the wild, not a lot of predators choose the woodlouse as prey as they have a rather urine-like taste. More than that, it can be a bit of a hassle to tackle the woodlouse due to its defense mechanism.
In fact, in a lot of tarantula enclosures where owners introduced woodlice, they found out that their Ts would just let them be. In such a case where the woodlouse will come into contact with their tarantula, he will simply just move his legs away to let the woodlouse pass.
This can clearly be an issue especially if your T constantly refuses to feed on them and you do not have an alternative feeder on hand. You will end up with a malnourished, stressed, and angry T.
The next time you open your tarantula enclosure, he might just jump at your hand due to hunger. With that in mind, woodlice can be used as a variation in your T’s diet, but not as their staple diet.
What Are The Benefits Of Putting Woodlice In The Enclosure?
Why do some tarantula owners put woodlice in their enclosure? If they cannot be treated as a primary feeder, why put them there in the first place? Can they harm your tarantula? Here are some answers.
1. Mite Problem
If you are a long time tarantula owner, you know that mites will eventually surface in the enclosure. This is completely unavoidable as there can be some things inside the enclosure that are decaying.
Having some mites is not particularly bad as they get rid of the decaying matter. However, too many mites and the possible indication of parasitic mites can endanger your T.
This is the reason why some owners put some woodlice in the enclosure. As discussed previously, they feed on decaying matter and the truth is, they are very efficient in doing so.
You just might find yourself not cleaning up after your T as the woodlice have got that covered. When there is a lack of decay in the enclosure, mites will surely be prevented from overpopulating the enclosure.
2. Enclosure Conditions
As woodlice consume decomposed organisms, they do not only play a vital role in dealing with decomposition but regrowth as well.
When you see them thriving inside your T’s enclosure, this simply means that the conditions are good and the temperature and humidity levels are just about right for your T.
With them inside the enclosure, you are assured that the plant life will thrive and there will not be too much carbon dioxide and ammonia in the enclosure.
If this is the case, then your tarantula is sure to thrive in his enclosure as there is no enclosure stressors present. Who do we have to thank? Woodlice!
The condition of your enclosure can also be largely affected by the substrate that you used. If you are unsure if you are using the right bedding, you can check out our guide about the best and the worst beddings to use for your T’s enclosure.
3. Tarantula Enrichment
This is actually a direct benefit to your T. Unlike other feeders where they will just burrow into the substrate and disappear never to be seen again, woodlice are very active and will continue to scurry around the enclosure.
This does not necessarily mean that your T will prey on them, but he will simply keep on observing them as a form of entertainment. Of course, there will be the occasional munching on woodlice, but they will mainly tolerate them for the fact as your T deems them as interesting.
Are Woodlice Dangerous To Your Tarantula?
In general, they are not really dangerous. They were made not to attack, instead, they will just curl up and stay that way until the threat is no longer present.
With that said, you should also not be careless to leave woodlice in the enclosure, especially if your tarantula is nearing his molt.
Even though woodlice do not have a history of bothering defenseless tarantulas, it is really not practical to leave your near defenseless tarantula to other creatures present in the enclosure.
If ever you run into some problems with regard to your molting T, head on over to our article where we discussed how you can help your T when he has a stuck molt.
Other than that, your T will not have any problems with woodlice in the enclosure. Not only does he have cleaners, but he also has potential snacks at his disposal.